Being aware of your surroundings, including other drivers, while driving is always paramount. Even during natural disasters and other states of emergency, staying home 24/7 isn’t always an option. People still have to go outside every now and then to do important stuff such as buying medicine or do a grocery run.
If you find yourself in need to hit the road during any kind of state of emergency, it’s imperative to take proper precautions and practice safe driving.
Getting into an accident during such times can be especially bad. With police, fire, ambulance, and even tow truck drivers all busy, you may face slower response times or put yourself and your loved ones at risk in other ways.
Let’s look at some sensible precautions you can take to minimize your risk.
Plan your destination
Because you need to limit your outside activities during a state of emergency, it is best to plan your route before leaving the house. Think about where you need to go and what you need to do. Do you need to pick up some medicine or stock up on groceries? Do you need to refill your tank or avail of essential services?
Are all the places you plan to visit open during this time? Rather than relying only on websites, which may not be up-to-date during such unusual circumstances, call and speak to a person. If you get only a voice recording, listen for a date and time to give some clue whether the recording may be old or out of date.
Not only will you be able to save time with proper planning. You will also be able to eliminate unnecessary trips to places where you don’t really need to go.
Limit the places you drive
In a state of emergency, or even in just a more ordinary event like a winter storm, people are discouraged to go out except for essential errands. To keep yourself safe, try to limit the number of places you go.
Do as much as you can online or over the phone. Even something as simple as placing a grocery or pharmacy order so it’s ready to be picked up when you arrive.
Try to cluster your stops.
Rather than zig-zagging all over town, plan out a route that reduces or eliminates backtracking and lets you hit all your stops in one area.
Fill your tank while you’re already out, rather than making a special trip later to do so.
Weigh cost versus risk
Is it really worth driving several extra miles or crossing traffic to save $0.03 per gallon on gas? Even if your tank was empty and you had to put in 20 gallons, your total savings would only be $0.60. But at what risk? The same holds with driving across town to save a few cents on bread or milk.
This is no time to put yourself or your family in added danger for so little savings.
Be mindful of the things you touch when filling up
Be mindful of the surfaces you lay your hands on. Fuel pumps are one of the dirtiest things you can touch. These things are rarely sanitized. Shopping carts are used by hundreds of people. Doorknobs, ATM keypads… the list goes on. Consider wearing gloves when coming in contact with high-touch areas.
Make it a habit to sanitize your hands
Frequent handwashing is still, and will always be, one of the best ways to avoid catching diseases. Keep hand sanitizer in your car and use it as soon as you get back in your car. This will keep your car from getting contaminated with the germs you might have picked up while doing your errands.
Keep an emergency kit
Experts have recommended for many years that every car should have at least a few essentials in the event of a breakdown or other emergency. These include highway reflectors or road flares, jumper cables, a working flashlight, and possibly a tow chain or strap.
To these, we would add a fully charged cell phone. You should always have a charging cable in the car. After all, you can’t call for help if your phone is at home or its battery is dead.
Pack your own supplies
While there may still be restaurants open during a time of emergency, it’s best not to leave it up to chance. Bring your own bottled water and snacks if you’ll have to be out for a long drive. The last thing you want is to be stuck by the side of the road for a while and feel hungry or thirsty (or worse, have screaming kids who are hungry or thirsty).
It’s best to avoid being on the road during a state emergency. If it’s really essential travel, take precautions and practice safe driving to keep yourself and your family protected.
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